Several writers from The Scrap decided to create new column that strives to highlight the best fighters out of their homelands. Living in a small town in the woods of Eastern Kentucky, I’m originally from the city in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Many great fighters have come from Ohio such as Matt Brown, Kevin Randleman, Mark Coleman, Cody Garbrandt, Rich Franklin, and Stipe Miocic. To follow in their shoes, here are the current best up and comers who can one day reach championship status like Stipe and legendary status like Coleman.
Read about the best three Ohio prospects that should be on your radar.
Mo Miller is a top prospect out of Ohio, and most importantly a top bantamweight prospect in the world. Miller isn’t actually born in Ohio as he was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. At a young age, he moved to Ohio, even attending Canton McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio. “Mo Show” currently still resides in Canton, representing the Strong Style Fight Team. Miller is undefeated as a pro at 6-0 and went undefeated as an amateur going 6-0 as well.
Miller is a two-time NCAA Division II All-American and a three-time collegiate All-American at Notre Dame. Of course, Miller has good wrestling. He is a monster, high-caliber wrestler. But he also has some bright spots on the feet. He throws a proficient one-two and has a sniper-like right hand. He’s someone that can wrestle all day and not get tired. Maybe a little safe in positions at times, Mo is a dominant grappler. He is always in control of the fight with his relentless wrestling heavy attack, and ability to time his shots and cut the corners. It’s going to take him to the top of this sport, without a doubt.
Usually from a wrestling-heavy attack, someone so young in his career would get tired. But that’s not the case for this 29-year-old. Like many times when you watch a guy like Miller fight, especially recently, you’d think he’s one-dimensional. With Miller, he’s fully capable of outdoing a lot of bantamweight on the feet ranked higher than him. As he’s nowhere near as good as a striker as he is a wrestler, his hands and movement have come a long way.
Miller fought just last month on Contender Series. In a season where Dana has been Santa Clause giving everyone contracts, he didn’t give one to Miller. Miller dominated Brandon Lewis who was 4-0 and Mo shut him down with his wrestling. Although he was dominant, he lacked the finishing ability Dana looks for and ultimately said Miller wasn’t ready yet.
With how Lewis performed since he’s signed with LFA last year, his last three fights prove he’s capable of fighting at the UFC-level.
“I think Ohio is a hotbed for top wrestling and top boxing, so to represent Ohio in MMA means you’re going to be battle-tested by the time you get to the national stage. Being one of the top prospects from Ohio is an honor because it’s a tough state to win in and that shows I’m ready for the bigger promotions. Expect for me to keep the ball rolling and compete again soon before the holidays.”-MO MILLER ON BEING FEATURED ON HOMELAND PROSPECTS
Although Mark Martin is currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona he was born in Cleveland, Ohio where he still visits today. He recently moved from Ohio to Arizona just a few years ago. Some of his accolades in wrestling include a Fila Junior National Championship, a two-time Ohio High School State Champion, and a three-time D1 National Qualifier for Ohio State University. Now living in Arizona, he trains out of the MMA Lab with a ton of high-level fighters to sharpen up his game.
Martin knocked off two amateur fights in a four-month span back in 2017, and then went pro. He started off 1-0 as a pro before losing a split decision. But he hasn’t lost since. Martin signed with LFA a little over a year ago, he’s 3-0 in the promotion currently. First and foremost, Marr is a primary wrestler that does like to test his ability on the feet. In fact, one of the better things Martin does is strike his way into the wrestling attempts. Martin does a lot of pressing forward, throwing kicks, and his left hand is his most valuable striking tool. He does very well at setting up takedowns with his hands and using feints. He’s a strong guy just muscling guys down when he closes the distance.
LFA has been an amazing home for Martin to build. They have been giving him a step up in competition each time he fights. He has arguably the best foundation style being wrestling, fights for a great team in the MMA Lab, and competes under the correct organization—LFA.
To me, Martin has a ton of upside, and that’s why he’s on this list.
“Growing up in Cleveland and wrestling at Ohio State—it’s an honor to be on the list of top prospects from Ohio. I believe I have the skills and work ethic to be the best in the world so be on the look out. Ohio till I die!”-MARK MARTIN ON BEING FEATURED ON HOMELAND PROSPECTS
Damonte Robinson was born, raised, and still living in Canton, Ohio. He’s been training at various guys even spending some time at JacksonWink in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unlike the other two prospects I’ve listed, Robinson doesn’t have a major background in any other discipline. Instead, he has the raw ability. He did compete in some jiu-jitsu tournaments in 2018. He took home bronze in No-Gi and gold in Gi. In high school he did play football, soccer, chess, cross county, men’s volleyball, track & field, and wresting.
Robinson is 7-1-1 as his sole loss comes in 2017 to current UFC fighter Devonte Smith. He last fought on the XFC 44 card and beat a talented Tom O’Connor. That was an alternate fight for the lightweight tournament XFC was holding. Now with some switching around, Robinson is now fighting for the XFC title against two-time UFC vet Kurt Holobaugh. Since dropping that loss and outside a draw right after, Robinson has won his last three fights.
“D’Jango” is well-rounded. He can wrestle and he can strike, mixing it together well. Robinson brings a tactical approach while being diverse in what he throws. He’s just as good as a wrestler than anything. He has three submission wins all by rear-naked choke, so taking the back and finishing the job has become his bread and butter. Damonte is only 26-years-old and nearing his prime, so the sky is the limit.
Training across some other good teams is gonna play dividend in his career going forward.
“I love representing Ohio! Dream big and grind harder. Everyone has dreams but if your grind doesn’t match your dream, it won’t happen. Everyone can expect me to be one of the best to ever fight. That’s my goal. To be a world champ and be a household name! I’m getting better everyday and it’s only a matter of time until everyone sees what I see!”-DAMONTE ROBINSON ON BEING FEATURED ON HOMELAND PROSPECTS
What do you think of our three Ohio prospects? Let us know in the comments below!